Sometimes it’s just really good to feel yourself *cues Beyonce.*
I never thought I was photogenic. Largely, the idea of me being beautiful was a one-sided opinion made by yours truly. Then slowly, how I saw myself changed more and more for the worse; that is until I began taking photos of myself a few months ago.
In the Beginning
In the beginning there was a skinny, wide-eyed, gap toothed girl with a creative mind.
I always thought I was beautiful. Mind, body, and spirit. It could partly be because my family hyped me up, showering me with random comments about the big browness of my eyes or length of my legs but I always felt it deep down. Even in the rough stages of bullying throughout school I just figured others couldn’t see what beauty I saw in myself. Then slowly the doubt started to creep in, unexpectedly it said “if a tree falls in the forest with no one around to hear it does it make a sound?”
It snuck in when a boyfriend told me I should gain more weight
It seeped into my thoughts when I questioned why another cheated
It stole away my confidence with every situationship
It was a slow drip whenever I was either overlooked or oversexualized because still no one was seeing me the way I saw me
But ultimately what opened the doors wide for doubt was another breakup that felt like yet another rejection of who I am
Maybe if I were prettier…or shorter…or lighter
Maybe if I were different in some way
The maybes were killing my thin threads of confidence and the way I saw myself began to suffer because…
If I felt beautiful but no one else said so was I really Beautiful?
The answer: Bitch, Hell tf yes!!!
Validation doesn’t equal existence
I just needed to hear the truth underneath all the background noise
I’ve had a man tell me I needed braces after rejecting his sexual advances of “you just look like you suck good ****” (I wasn’t as hood back then so he got away with his life) unfortunately, my confidence wasn’t so lucky. I became self conscious and stop smiling in pictures. My imperfect teeth are one of my biggest sources of bruised self esteem. One I’m still struggling to accept and correct.
We often brush words under a rug and try to sweep off the sting by seeming overly confident without ever dealing with the hurt. Years and years of comments like these, emotional abuse, and societal standards of beauty were finally catching up to me in present day. If I was to really love myself I needed to start with accepting my imperfections, beginning with those I could see. My insides were already pretty amazing…
Interpretations of a Beautiful Picture
Pictures taken by other photographers were great examples of being interpreted through the lens of someone else. Isn’t that basically what life is? Often pictures were a source of discomfort for me because I didn’t trust others to see me how I saw myself; I mean they never had before right?…So I never fully relaxed during photo sessions.
Once I began photographing myself I saw that I was more relaxed, powerful even. I was in control. I moved the way I naturally felt inclined to. I wore what made me feel sexiest, or free. I choose makeup or none but the result is always the same. I love how carefree and beautiful my images make me feel because in those moments it’s a true representation of what I’m experiencing. Some I share, most I don’t because I care less about the likes; what’s important is the feeling my image conveys when I look at it: FREEDOM. PEACE. SENSUALITY. GROWTH.
Remember who you are
Taking photos of yourself is not about being conceited or over self indulgent. It is a Mood. The moments I’m photographing I’m at peace in my body and mind. I am in that moment appreciating my life and myself, giving God thanks. That is why they come out great. Plus I always have a dope mix playing for the vibe.
During my little sessions: it’s like in mufusa’s voice I can hear my queen ancestors telling me to “REMEMBER…”
Remember beauty is in the eye of the beholder
Remember it is more than just skin and flesh
Remember who tf you are
My photos are just me; I interpret who I am and want to be without the help of a single soul. I define myself in my photos with what I wear, how I chose to pose, what shade of lipstick fits my mood. Each time I successfully convey my sensuality, strength, humor, and beauty. I am the master of my image. Allowing no one to project opinions of how I should, could, or would onto who I AM.
The beauty I’ve found and have always had is more that just my chocolate skin deep. It is me. It is stepping fully into myself and appreciating every aspect of who I am; from how I look to how I think. This time, it’s not fragile in a way that can be rocked by the words or actions of others. My confidence is real, my image is my own.
I’m not telling you to rush out and buy a camera or bright backdrop; I’m telling you not to be afraid to look at yourself. The curve of your lips to the shape of your toes. Take control of your image. Fall in love with it. Fall in love with yourself. And let no one project another picture onto you. You are already beautiful. You are already enough.